I’ve been messing about with builds lately. It’s not something I’ve done a lot of in the past, I think I was just getting the hang of it when I stopped playing the game in Dec 12 and so I never really got to go deep into the heart of how it affects gameplay experience.
Well now I know, or least I know a little bit more than back in 2012; it affects it a lot and with the coming changes to how we spec out a character it’s only going to become more flexible and powerful and this seems like the perfect time to start tinkering with it.
But let me back up a bit and explain why I’ve been fooling about under the hood. I play an engineer you see and whilst the ‘Engi’ is a fun class to solo with it really is designed to be a strong support class and therefore many of its’ tool kits are most powerful & (possibly only) useful in group situations. I play 99.9% of the time alone. This makes most of the kits and gadgets the Engi has available useless to me, likewise with the traits that back them up, and I find myself relying heavily on turrets to pull aggro from mobs and then lots of dodging and kiting (and healing!) to stay alive long enough to grind the enemy down to a bloody puddle of zero. Yet when I watch my son play his Warrior, a class that has no gadgets but can use more weapons and has access to stronger armour, he can just attack stuff and it dies right there in front of him! Oh I’m so jealous! Here am I, my fingers tying themselves in knots on my G13, my brain screaming DODGE! ROLL! DROP TURRET! GRENAAAAAAADE! DODGGGGGGE! as I dance and wheel around one on-level veteran with my health bubble bouncing up and down like a nervous bride’s nightie, whilst he runs up to a gang of four slightly higher level mobs and casually punches them so hard their bones turn to dust and they shit out gold coins as an apology for disturbing him!*
So I took to the traits panel and began to play about with my build. I’m level 80, have most skills unlocked, have OK armour & weapons (all rares rather than exotics but the difference is small enough to ignore on the macro scale of getting my arse kicked by a vet undead giant and his small army of big ass zombie grubs) and well -chosen runes and sigils throughout – to be honest a re-trait is all I have left to play with.
In the past, when I first learnt about builds, I speced myself out to be a crack shot with the rifle and increase both my crit chance and crit damage and this worked well for me. Then I read about the flame-truck build and followed that (basically making myself tougher with a flamethrower) but whilst this was good for a while it did not scale up well and became less effective the higher I got. By the time I left the game I had settled on a turret-centric built that made my turrets stronger and ‘tossable’ but in coming back into the game now and finally getting to Orr I’ve found this wasn’t really working for me, especially as the turrets are all but one-shotted as soon as I have them out. So I tried a few new builds with the intention of mixing things up and going crazy in the hopes of finding a cool niche for myself but straight away I was stopped as all the wacko options use the tool kits and gadgets that are more support orientated. Still I tried. I kept a solid 30 points in the explosives line (it saddens me to say that pretty much all Engis you talk to can’t justify breaking the tyranny of the top line here) and moved a full 30 into tools to try and gain some kit swapping, hit-blocking abilities and the final 10 giving me tougher turrets. With this I lost a lot of nice stuff from the previous build such as reduced fall damage and faster running speed but, I reasoned, if it meant the enemy went down faster it was a trade off worth making.
They didn’t. It wasn’t.
True I discovered a lovely trait where my speed was increased a lot when swapping to grenades, but other than that the Orrian undead remained undead for far longer than I had hoped. It seemed that just like the combo of rifle and grenades, the only traits that help an Engi solo successfully in Tyria are firearms and explosives.
A chat with my guildies helped a little, they convinced me that other weapon options and traits do work, but I think we all agreed they tend to work in group situations so I headed off to the trainer to once again reset and re-build (at a cost of less than 2sp, I can see why Arenanet are about to make this free – it penalises nothing but my time). The upshot is I’ve gone all the way back to something very much like my first build; 30 in explosives, 30 in firearms and a cheeky 10 in inventions to protect me from fall damage. The main difference this time is that my armour, runs and sigils are better chosen to build my strength, toughness & precision rather the healing and condition damage that (I’ve been reliably told) don’t scale well and therefore are wasted. Once more things I shoot at or blow up bursts into flame and dies in a writhing heap at my satisfied (probably dodging, rolling & dancing) feet. Now if only my turrets were better at agroing high level mobs for a decent amount of time I think I’d be pretty happy with my performance. True that my son’s warrior can still punch things into orbit whilst I do the foxtrot with them, but at least I kill them with some style and panache, eh?
* I may be over stating the case for the Warrior. I think they were silver coins and the apology may have been a death gurgle.